9:00 PM ET, January 11, 2011
Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
Arron Afflalo shines as Nuggets ignore Carmelo Anthony rumors in romp
"I'll be here playing against Miami," Anthony said. "Guarantee you that."
Anthony even got the kinks sorted out with his jumper just for the occasion.
The All-Star followed up one of his worst shooting performances with a 28-point effort and Arron Afflalo added a career-high 31 points, helping the Denver Nuggets snap a three-game skid with a 132-98 rout of the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
Anthony, the subject of trade talks all season, was greeted early by the crowd with a smattering of boos but quickly reversed the mood with his hustle and hanging jumpers.
He understands the crowd's pendulum of emotions, not knowing how to feel about him even after he led the team to the playoffs in each of his first seven seasons. He's not taking it personally.
"People have their right to boo; people have their right to cheer," said Anthony, who added 10 rebounds. "It doesn't bother me as long as I go out there and continue being the player that I am, doing what I do. The boos, I don't worry about that."
Anthony struggled with his jumper Sunday night in a loss to New Orleans, scoring just eight points and drawing jeers like he'd never heard before at Pepsi Center.
Hoping for a bounce-back performance against the Suns, Anthony was more aggressive, taking shots when they were presented.
"It was good to get back on the right track," Anthony said.
Ty Lawson scored 16 points and J.R. Smith added 15 to help the Nuggets avoid their first four-game losing streak in nearly four years. They're the only NBA team in that time that hasn't dropped four in a row.
Denver native Chauncey Billups, who finished with seven assists, has been dragged into the most recent trade speculation, a proposed three-team deal involving Detroit and New Jersey and at least 13 players.
For that, Anthony said he felt remorseful since he knows how beloved Billups is in the Mile High City. The deal has picked up steam in recent days, but the chatter was quiet Tuesday.
Trailing by 12 after the first quarter, the Nuggets outscored Phoenix by 42 points over the second and third periods to turn the game into a rout.
The 34-point margin of victory was the largest ever for Denver against the Suns.
Steve Nash hit his first four shots but didn't make another and spent the entire fourth quarter on the bench. He finished with 15 points.
"It feels like there's a little lack of cohesion and chemistry. I don't feel like we're getting that performance and effort that we're accustomed to, and that's disappointing," Nash said. "It seems like when we lose the momentum, we just go downhill fast. It's like we stop believing.
"We're all concerned and disappointed. We've got to keep fighting; that's all we can do. You can't cry about it; you've got to keep fighting."
Lawson provided an instant spark off the bench, pushing the pace and helping the Nuggets get back into the game after falling behind by as many as 14 points in the opening quarter.
Led largely by the backups, the Nuggets scored a season-high 44 points in the second quarter to retake the lead. Lawson scored 10 in the period, while Smith turned in two dunks that brought the crowd to its feet.
"We went out there and tried to have as much fun as we can, instead of focusing on trade talk and rumors and all that," Smith said. "As long as we come out here and play like we're supposed to play, have fun and don't worry about what's going on off the court, just on the court, we'll be fine."
Anthony had a night he'd rather forget the last time he stepped onto the court, hitting three of 11 shots in a 96-87 loss to the Hornets on Sunday.
He was jeered again Tuesday, before getting back into the crowd's good graces with his play. He started out slow but picked it up, hitting nine of 17 shots from the field. He also converted eight of 10 free throws.
Anthony has been the subject of trade talks since he hasn't signed the Nuggets' three-year, $65 million extension they offered this past summer.
The most recent deal has Billups and former Pistons teammate Richard Hamilton reuniting in New Jersey along with Anthony. The Nets would send rookie power forward Derrick Favors, point guard Devin Harris and others to Denver in exchange for Anthony, Billups, Hamilton, Shelden Williams and Terrico White, who is injured.
However, it hinges on whether Anthony will sign his extension so the Nets can have him as their cornerstone for years to come. Anthony has given no indication whether he would agree to sign the extension and go to the Nets.
Suns F Grant Hill sat out Tuesday's game with a sore right knee and ankle, ending his streak of appearing in 70 straight regular-season games. ... Suns coach Alvin Gentry couldn't envision going through such a circus with Nash, largely because, "we aren't going to trade him," Gentry said. ... Afflalo's previous high was 25 against Memphis on Dec. 5.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||32-87 (.368)||44-79 (.557)|
|3PM-3PA||7-22 (.318)||7-17 (.412)|
|FTM-FTA||27-37 (.730)||37-43 (.860)|
|Fast Break Points||8||12|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||32 (3/0)||27 (4/0)|